If you would like your dog to do the hurdles, then follow me.
I watched my 7-year old say those words. He had me spike his rebellious Mohawk that morning. It is rebellious not because I disapprove but because his curls make it very difficult to get a good spike. It’s more like a healthy wave.
He spun on his little Jordan clad heel and with a silver whistle in hand, he headed toward the wide field of grass in our neighborhood park. I watched a semi-circle of smiling adults with their dogs follow him to a station set up with the hurdles he had built with his father.
Some of our contestants were members of our family. Some were friends we consider family. Some were new acquaintances that chose to spend their Saturday attending Isaac’s Dog Olympics.
Each dog was wearing a bright bandana that my son had numbered using puff paint. Every dog owner filled out an event sign up sheet so that Isaac knew what event each dog would be competing in. Isaiah, Isaac and I sat down with construction paper, markers and duct tape to create 1st, 2nd and 3rd place ribbons. Isaac and I made peanut butter dog treats shaped like hearts for the contestants.
I watched as my husband walked beside Isaac. He made a great assistant with a pencil tucked behind his ear and a notebook of paper in his hand. He allowed Isaac to lead the event making gentle suggestions here and there. Levi started out as the mascot and ended up pilfering Olympic cupcakes the Dragon Lady made with M&Ms to represent the well-known rings.
He did make the cutest mascot ever.
Isaiah helped Hitaly with her second puppy. I threw away dog poop, compiled the event registration and offered hugs to all involved. I beamed with pride and laughed with friends who came to fill the role of spectators.
I stood at the edge of the crowd and let my eyes well up with tears.
I watched Isaac, my middle child, my little fish, my sweet boy, lead his family and a crowd of adults. I watched him envision something and then nurture it into reality.
In the weeks leading up to the event I explained the idea to a few friends. I felt like I was trying to justify humoring my son and this summertime project. I almost felt apologetic when I asked people to come.
Hey guys. So my kid wants to do this thing. Come. Or not. You know. Whatever.
It wasn’t whatever. It was big. I am so grateful that my family and friends were there to see it.
Because I can’t explain the big. I can’t explain why my heart has a happy ache as I sit and reflect on it weeks later. You had to see it. You had to be there to watch him confidently addressing and leading adults. If you could have seen him passing out awards to the many winners including overall winners.
Yeah. He thought of that.
When the event was over and Isaac and I were walking home, I asked:
“If you could give me three words that describe how you feel about the Dog Olympics, what would they be?”
He replied right away.
“Loved, passionate and fortunate.”
Let those words roll around in your brain for a minute. My willingness to entertain Isaac’s idea made him feel loved, passionate and fortunate.
I am having a blissed out moment in parenting.
I hope that with a little help, I planted seeds of giant self-esteem and empowerment in that universe sized heart he manages to carry behind a seemingly small cage of ribs. I hope that he always remember how we all showed up, chipped in, followed directions and let him lead. I hope we can do it all again sometime.
And most of all, I hope that he can grow up feeling loved, passionate and fortunate. Because, holy moly, wouldn’t that be a Mission Accomplished for me and his dad.
Oh Isaac. I love you bigger than the mountains.
PS – To everyone who helped, words will never be enough. Your love for me pales in comparison to the love you give in abundance to my children. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.